Some sample essays by students with Dr Jennifer Minter
- Return to Study Notes; Article on Animal Farm
- See Animal Farm : Power for power’s sake: Notes
- See Tasks on Animal Farm
ORWELL suggests that the inaction of the populace is partly to blame for Napoleon’s rise to power.
(How do Millie, Benjamin and Boxer respond or fail to respond to issues with their leadership?)
INTRO : Animals such as Mollie, Benjamin and Boxer cannot be blamed for the failed rebellion. The pigs were too smart and too ruthless. They took advantage of the animals and were not interested in trying to improve their standard of care or to provide education. The animals like Boxer trusted the leaders and followed orders. They cannot be blamed for the fact that the pigs took advantage of them. They always tried to play their part and make the farm better.
BOXER is presented as an honourable horse, who placed his faith in the leaders, but we cannot blame Boxer for the fact that the leaders took advantage of his hard work. He trusted them; he always followed orders and worked hard. Unfortunately, he could not read, so it was hard for him to be sure about any doubts that he had concerning the pigs and their leadership style. As a great worker, he is tireless. He performs all the heavy work around the farm (19). He had “tremendous muscles” which he put to good use. He was the “admiration of everybody”. Orwell constantly draws attention to his “great muscles” (77) to show that he is a good worker, but also to show that his mind is less developed.
Boxer even endangers his life because he wants to make the rebellion work. He wants to make life better for the animals. Boxer is wounded during the windmill attack and he is clearly devastated that the men have destroyed the windmill which took them 2 years to build (76) (Battle of the Windmill). However, he is always kind-hearted and does not wish harm on others. He is sympathetic towards the boy who dies during the Jones’ attack, renamed The Battle of the Cowshed. He states tearfully, “I have no wish to take life, not even human life”.
Boxer is also a good servant and follows orders; it is not his fault that they take advantage oef him. When the dogs attacked him, he is about to crush them. However, he defers to Napoleon’s leadership. Napoleon “sharply ordered Boxer to let the dog go” and Boxer obeyed. Boxer also believes Napoleon’s version of history.
Boxer’s biggest fault is that he trusts too much, and he does not question their lies. He often doubts his own version and believes their’s. However, he cannot be blamed for Squealer’s lies. Squealer and the pigs deliberately exploit the animals for their power. At first he defends Snowball, and believes that he acted honourably during the Battle of the Cowshed. However, he cannot be sure because he cannot read. Squealer states that they had written down the events “in the secret documents that we have found”. Therefore Orwell suggests that Boxer is dependent upon the pigs. When Squealer gives a passionate defence of their version and “graphically” depicts Snowballs bad actions, then he places his trust in them (61) Squealer convinces Boxer that Snowball was a traitor and it becomes hard for Boxer to insist on his memory – he is not only getting older but he begins to doubt his own experiences. He finally agrees, “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right” (60) After all he cannot read.
Boxer underestimates the power of the pigs and believes that they will look after him. The pigs are ruthless towards Boxer and their final act shows that they do not care about the animals. The pigs sell his carcass to the men and completely betray him. Boxer expected to retire with Benjamin and they would be companions during their final years (86). He also looks forward to the “peaceful days that he would spend in the corner of the pasture” (87). However, he underestimates the pigs. They are very ruthless and show no regard towards his hard work.
Similarly, Orwell suggests that Mollie has a lot of problems doing equal work on the farm, but she needs good, strong and honest leadership. This does not come from the pigs. Mollie is also hiding during the Jones’ attack. She took fright when she heard the gun and did not endanger her life like the other animals. (31) Mollie is corrupted by the men because she yearns for her small comforts. She provides more trouble than the other animals, becoming daily “more troublesome” (33)
Finally, Benjamin is perhaps one of the wisest animals and he constantly remains suspicions of the pigs because he seems to understand more about power than the other animals. He is presented as a wise donkey who is more realistic than the other animals. He is prepared to play his part; fulfil his role but he does not do any extra work.) (21) Benjamin also performs an honourable job during the fight against Jones. He “turned around and lashed at them with his small hoofs” (30) Benjamin is suspicious of the men when the return to attack the windmill. (74) Benjamin grows old and wise and “greyer” but remains “much the same as ever” (92). He knows that leaders come and go and eventually they are all the same. He seems to understand that power transforms leaders in harmful ways.
It is very hard for any of the animals to question the pigs because they are too ruthless; they use violence to make them afraid. They kill the hens when they refuse to hand over the eggs and they make sure that they are the only ones who have access to knowledge. They use a combination of knowledge and violence to silence the animals. ..
Even Boxer is sceptical and he manages to “formulate his thoughts”. Boxer attempts to defend Snowball’s credentials because he had first-hand eye-witness evidence.
Napoleon is able to achieve power because he slowly takes away the rights of the other animals, rather than all at once. Discuss.
When Old Major calls the animals together in the barn, he explains to them his vision of a bright future. Based on the theory of socialism, the ideals of animalism are about equality and harmony for all animals. Old Major believes that the animals will be free when they own the produce of their labour. All animals are keen to embrace this vision which is outlined in several commandments. However, Napoleon increasingly undermines their rights. He treats the pigs as inferior to the other animals and begins to use force to control them and take away their produce. Finally, when they resemble the humans, the animals must realise that they have lost most of their rights.
What are the rights? Old Major’s dream and vision. – sharp and forthright tone and insists on sticking to the principles of Animalism.
What right and how and why does he take it away? How does he undermine their rights?
Napoleon takes the away the rights of all animals to be treated equally. He gives the pigs extra privileges/ treats/ … they are treated as superior (undermines the equality)
- How and why ? – propaganda… manipulation and brainwashing. 25 26
- This decision of the pigs is particularly harmful because they present it as necessary in order for them to improve their “brainpower”. They skilfully use propaganda to show that they do not want to have the extra treats, but they are doing the animals a favour…
Furthermore, the animals believe that they have the rights to own their produce, but Napoleon takes away these rights and begins to trade with humans. Taking away the rights:… “the produce of our labour would be our own”. (no trade with humans ).The animals believe that they have the right to own their produce; also the animals have agreed not to trade with the humans because there is no common interest. : The hen’s rebellion… they want to share their eggs.. according to their principles of animalism. (undermines the rule about tyranny) p 47 – would need to sell eggs to the humans/ enemy… “sacrifice” p 62 “Cruel retribution 56 – the hens believe that this is “murder” because it will destroy their offspring (“clutches”)
Napoleon uses force against the other animals to secure his power which is undermining the animal’s rights to freedom and equality. The pigs use cruel and brutal means, such as the dogs, and control the other animals. They begin to live in fear and terror. This goes against Old Major’s decree (vision) that no animals are to “tyrannise over his own kind”. (7) He deliberately trains the puppies and makes them used to the taste of blood. .. Puppies… – cruel force… all animals are being slaughtered… the animals not only live in fear, but because they cannot read, they are not able to challenge the power of the pigs.
The right to live in perfect harmony and unity, and to trust each other in “perfect comradeship” is not only undermined when the pigs start trading with humans but when they start to live like the humans as well. The pigs begin to resemble the enemy – do not trust enemy and do not become like him. Old Major says there is no “common interest” between them and that man only wants to exploit the animals. 49, 50 (Chapter 6)
The pigs had the meals in the house, used the kitchen and slept in the beds. Eventually they start to drink alcohol which is the worst possible… thing; they are only interested in their fun and fortune and no longer interested in the welfare of the animals.